Bible Study 10.24.11, 10.27.11, 10.30.11 For Worship 11.6.11

Bible Study 10.24.11, 10.27.11, 10.30.11 For Worship 11.6.11

Psalm 150

150:1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!

2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his exceeding greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

4 Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

COMMENTARY

Psalm 150 is the closing selection in the Book of Psalms. It is a doxology chosen to end the book of liturgy of the Hebrew Scriptures. In other apocryphal collections of Psalms there are as many as 155 Psalms. Psalm 150 is part of the Morning Prayer ritual in Judaism. Every verse mentions praise at least twice. There are six different musical instruments mentioned in this Psalm (sorry Church of Christ.) Let’s take a moment and look at those instruments, since some of them may be different from what we use today. The ancient trumpet did not have valves, so several different horns of different lengths and shapes may have been employed to form a horn section. We also do not know if the Psalm refers to cast metal horns or the horns of animals, especially sheep as in the shofar is still blown in Jewish worship to commence the New Year. The lute looked something like a primitive guitar, a stringed instrument that could be plucked or strummed. The ancient harp was a hand held device with fewer strings than today’s concert harp. The harp was different from the lute, because it had no sound board. Timbrel was a percussive instrument like the tambourine. Drums are not mentioned, but the cymbals provided some percussion and accent to music. The pipe was probably a flute like instrument, thus providing a wood wind sound. Psalm 150 also mentions sacred dance or movement as part of the ritual of worship and praise.

The Psalm seems simple and repetitious like much modern praise music. But perhaps some of us who see ourselves as more “sophisticated than that,” need to take a hint from the inclusion of this Psalm in the Ritual of Morning Prayer in Judaism. Praise is important, because praise changes us. Praise is a reminder that God is God and we are not. Later in the year I will talk about how praise is the key to developing humility. For this week, because we are approaching Thanksgiving I want to lift up the truth that praise is the foundation for thanksgiving and gratitude. So often in our modern culture we consider everything to be a gimme, food on the table, a roof over our head, heating and air conditioning, a car that works, good health, appropriate clothing – all things we have come to expect. As a result we seldom stop to say, “thank you,” and that breeds arrogance, tight-fistedness, and a spirit of entitlement. These negative attitudes that grow out of our lack of praise leads to pessimism, grief, depression, selfishness, and miserliness.

 

Especially since this Psalm is the scripture for Remembrance Sunday I want to lift up the importance of praise even in grief. Of course, when we are grieving, we experience, anger, sadness, and loss. We do not want to deny these very real and appropriate feelings in the midst of our loss. Even as we pause to remember loved ones gone, we can embrace praise as the way back to life, love and God. I am thinking of some of my favorite hymns for funerals:

For All the Saints

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

In the Bulb There Is a Flower

 

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

These are songs about grief and loss, but they are also songs of praise, praise that can lift our spirits and point to God who is the source of all our healing. In all things we offer thanks and praise.

 

LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT

1. Who or what is praised in Psalm 150?

2. Who all in the Psalm is directed to offer praise?

3. Where does the Psalm direct that praise should be offered?

4. How many times does the Psalm use the word “praise?”

5. How many different musical instruments does the Psalm mention?

6. According to the Psalm what other art forms besides musical instruments should be used to praise God?

LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF US

1. What are your rituals of praise?

2. Do you have a daily ritual of praise?

3. For what are you most thankful to God?

4. What is your favorite hymn?

5. How many different kinds of instruments have you ever heard in the context of worship?

6. Have you ever encountered movement in worship?

7. What is your favorite song or hymn in a grief context?

8. Are there any liturgies or other devotional practices that you find helpful that are repetitive?

9. Are there any worship practices that help you keep your ego in check?

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2 Comments on “Bible Study 10.24.11, 10.27.11, 10.30.11 For Worship 11.6.11”

  1. terri shows says:

    so I discover that my new home needed to be blessed with songs of praise. Thank you, Bob, for sending the words, glad I knew the melodies.


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